I’m often asked by friends or travellers what they can do with an extra day and night in Bangkok once they’ve had enough of shopping, partying and Bangkok site-seeing. My personal favorite – get the hell out! There are several geographically close options to choose from – beach (Pattaya or Hua Hin) or nature (Kanchanaburi or Khao Yai National Park), but one of my favorite romantic overnight getaways (and one of the closest/most convenient) is Iudia in Ayutthaya.
Iudia is a small hotel located directly across the river from the UNESCO World Heritage listed historical park in Ayuthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand, only 64km north of Bangkok. In fact it looks directly onto one of the ancient ruins, which makes a great (and very romantic in the evening) view from the swimming pool and deck.
Whilst Iudia calls itself a bed’n’breakfast, this is only due to the fact they lack a full restaurant, although they do have a small coffee shop which serves great coffee, breakfast and snacks. Actually it’s a lovely little boutique hotel.
With only 13 rooms spread across 3 buildings in lush gardens, the Thai owner has taken a great deal of thought and care into presenting a tasteful, stylish, peaceful and intimate experience. The spacious rooms, decorated in Thai silks and antiques from the owner’s personal collection, feature a modern and hip design. The staff are delightfully friendly and helpful and can arrange transfers or visits to interesting sites in the area such as the Summer Palace.
With a variety of rooms to choose from, some with outdoor showers, most with a small deck and river view (one room even has its own private plunge pool), I’m sure you’ll find the accommodation to your liking (I’d recommend the Ok-Kun suite).
Breakfast at Iudia was very pleasant, a lovely selection of fresh fruits, pastries, bacon and eggs and their famous fresh and strong coffee. You’ve no need to worry about finding dinner – there are several delicious (and very good value) Thai seafood restaurants located along the river close to the hotel.
Iudia’s location is perfect – walking distance from the ancient ruins, which are a beautiful spectacle. Or better still take a bicycle (the hotel provides bicycles for guests) and enjoy a leisurely pedal around the ruins (my tip – go early morning or late afternoon, you’ll miss the day trippers & have the place to yourself). I’d also recommend visiting my favorite ruin (and off the tourist circuit), Wat Wora Chet (close to the north end of Klong Tho road, next to the hotel). There’s a palpable force (hard to describe) which you feel as soon as you enter the ruin.
And whatever you do, make sure to visit (a short bicycle ride) the elephant village behind the Elephant Kraal to make friends with the baby elephants (or even stay on a few days and work with the elephants at Elephantstay.
I’d also recommend a sunset boat cruise around the ruins (the hotel will arrange a pick-up from the hotel pier) and for those with a sweet tooth, make sure to try the local delicacy, roti sai mai (basically a pancake stuffed with candy floss!) from the vendors lining the street along from the hotel.
I am a big fan of small and intimate locally owned boutique hotels. Iudia definitely fits the bill – you’ll be very relaxed and comfortable, both inside and outside your room at Iudia. And of course, whether you’re a LGB or T couple, you’ll be warmly welcomed.
Getting to Ayuthaya is very easy – bus, taxi, mini van or train. I love train travel and always take the train (but note, sometimes it gets delayed and takes longer than expected, all part of the adventure as far as I’m concerned). For my last trip there was a special steam train, which was a bit of a treat. Enjoy your Amazing Thailand adventures!